Meet the Thoths!
|Got that tiger by the tail?|
I’m sorry, but in my head the theme from the Flinstones started playing as I typed that blog title! And it is deeply inappropriate because the elegant Thoth Courts are about as far away from Barney and Betty Rubble as you can get!
The Thoth deck, created by Aleister Crowley (rhymes with Holy) and Frieda, Lady Harris*, is one of the most beautiful and well thought-through decks in the Tarot universe. Crowley was a Golden Dawner – and one of its most colourful characters. Once referred to by the press as ‘the wickedest man in the world’ he was, I think, just 50 years ahead of his time. Today he would be hanging out with Lady Gaga and regularly papped for all the Celebrity pages in newspapers.
|Prince of Wands
But for all his over-the-top antics (chiselling off a discrete fig leaf from Oscar Wilde’s tombstone, for example), he was utterly sincere in his Great Work. Cajoled (and paid) into creating a Tarot by Lady Harris the two of them hammered out this magnificent deck. If you get a chance to read their correspondece, please do.
In line with Golden Dawn thought, we see a change in the Court Card structure. There are no Pages and Kings in this deck, instead we have Princesses and Princes.
In the RWS we have a court that is structured like this: The Page is the lowest rank….then Knight….then Queen….then King. The story *I* tell myself about them is that the King and Queen have two children – the Knight is older and taking on some of The Firm’s responsibilities and the Page is really just learning her place in the world.
|She can pack quite
a punch with that Wand!
Other people have a slightly different story – the King and Queen are right up there at the top of the pack, the Page is not their child, but just a Page, a little servant; the Knight is not their son, just a courtier. A very FLASHY courtier though.
But the structure is the same – Page, Knight, Queen, King.
Not so in the Thoth.
In Crowley’s story, the Knight is the Consort for the Queen. The Queen being the old King’s daughter. The Prince is the Son of the Queen and the Knight. The Princess is won by the Prince and set upon her mother’s throne. Crowley says: ‘She thus awakens the Eld of the old king, who becomes a Knight and so renews the cycle.’
‘She is not only the perfect maiden,’ continues Crowley ‘but (also) the lamenting widow’ of the Prince.
I know. It’s like an episode of the real Game of Thrones.
This transformation of King into Knight, Knight and Queen unity, the production of a Prince, the son’s union with his Princess sister, his transformation itno the Knight, her morphing into Queen…..it’s hugely dynamic and exciting, much more so than the static positions of the RWS, don’t you think?
What makes it so hideously confusing is that the Knights are on horseback – just as they are in the RWS – and it is SO easy to lapse into thinking of them as Ye Olde Waite Knight.
The Prince is the son of the Knight and Queen. A Prince is ALWAYS a Queen’s son – that’s one lynch-pin that will keep your Thoth Tarot Arcana from tumbling into mental disarray when you start to use it!
|The Knight and Queen of Cups|
|Prince and Princess of Cups|
*Calling herself Lady Frieda Harris was just a little affectation that she took for herself. According to Lon Milo DuQuette in his book Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot (and I cannot recommend this book highly enough if you are planning on a bit of Thoth Dabbling) the correct way to address this estranged wife of a Baronet is Frieda, Lady Harris. She should only have been calling herself Lady Frieda Harris if her father had had the title. Debretts? Who needs it. You’re welcome 🙂
|Knight and Queen of Disks|
|Princess and Prince of Disks|
|Knight and Queen of Swords|
|Princess and Prince of Swords|
All images from the Thoth Tarot, published by US GAmes Systems, words – Aleister Crowley, art Lady Frieda Harris.
Understanding Aleister Crowley’s Thoth Tarot – Lon Milo DuQuette